Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) Industry in USA to grow to $27 B by 2023

Nearly 64.4% of the commercial units of AM systems sold in 2019 around the globe were made by the top producers based in the US.

Although, the penetration level of the technology in the country lies at 5% at present, it is forecasted to reach 50% between 2031-2038 and further 100% between 2058-2065 respectively.

  • Definition / Scope
  • Market Overview
  • Key Metrics
  • Market Risks
  • Top Market Opportunities
  • Market Trends
  • Industry Challenges
  • Technology Trends
  • Other Key Market Trends
  • Market Size and Forecast
  • Market Outlook
  • Technology Roadmap
  • Competitive Landscape
  • Competitive Factors
  • Key Market Players
  • Strategic Conclusion
  • References

Definition / Scope

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, refers to a group of technologies that create products through the adding of materials (typically layer by layer) rather than by subtraction (through machining or other types of processing).

Additive manufacturing is one of the most revolutionary technology in the field of manufacturing and it has continued to be so for the past 5-10 years. Initially, the technology was positioned to be viable for consumer market, however, more lately it has evolved into industrial manufacturing solution.

The additive manufacturing solutions are generally deployed in following categories:

Hardware manufacturers: These include products such as polymers, desktop, metals and electronics. As more companies are searching for ways to incorporate AM into their production, hardware manufacturers are also meeting demand with high quality printing systems which are faster and accurate.

Among different products, polymer systems are growing the most where companies offering machines that produce high-quality polymer parts are evolving rapidly.

Software vendors: These include services such as design & CAD workflow and security. Software landscape has transformed since last few years and is mostly dominated by design & simulation categories.

Design is an indispensable part of AM where the technology offers possibility of creating complex geometries with traditional manufacturing methods which has given rise to advanced design tools like generative design & topology optimization.

Raw-material providers: Polymers, composites & metals are some of the printable materials where most of the players in the market are operating. At present, the cost of material is high which is why there is less competition in this space.

Among the printable materials, polymers & composites are the largest segments and with most developments happening.

Post-processing system manufacturers: Although this is the smallest segment of AM in manufacturing, it is also the most active segment. It involves post-production step for multiple 3D printing processes, and these processes are typically manual and time-intensive.

Most of the companies operating in this space are providing three different types of solutions: automated surface finishing technology, removal solutions & high-volume finishing solutions.

Market Overview

Within the product development cycle of any manufactured product, proof of concept and prototyping stages are where manufacturers are heavily relying on the 3D printing or AM technology.  Almost 51% of the US manufactures are making 3D printing a part of their broader manufacturing strategy.

Among all the country markets in the world, US enterprises are most positive about the opportunity that 3D printing technology has to become the mainstream in manufacturing environment.

As budget and physical space are two dominant barriers that the enterprises are facing against the adoption of 3D printing at scale, but the adoption among the enterprises remains high i.e. 80% enterprises believe that the technology is enabling them to innovate faster.

50% of the companies utilizing the technology also cited that CAD design is where they spend most of their time in the product development and building prototypes, research, testing prototypes are some of the areas where they are most keen to utilize the 3D printing technology.

40% of the enterprises also believe that 3D printing technology is enabling rapid iterations of prototypes and reducing lead time which is allowing manufacturers to cater mass customization of their products.

There are total eight industries that are utilizing the AM technologies that include, Industrial Goods (13.6%), High Tech (10.6%), Services (9.9%), Consumer Goods (8.6%), Health & Medical (6.2%), Automotive (5.7%), Aerospace & Defence (5.5%), and Education (4.9%). 

Market Risks

Despite of several advantages of AM or 3-D printing technologies prevalent in the industry, the technology has also been associated with various exposures and risks especially potential health and safety risks. Changes in materials, instrumentation, applications and processes could create hazards that are entirely new.

Some other AM hazards could arrive as a result from the use of electric machinery itself or other technical errors which could potentially cause mechanical injury or shock.

Noise and ergonomic hazards could also be caused and other airborne diseases from the exposure of heat and fumes. In addition, AM malfunction would also require instant action from a small group of workers resulting in scheduling late, irregular or long shifts or on-call hours in return causing immense stress and fatigue.

Bioprinting also deposits biological molecules, materials and cells and can use processes similar to AM.

Category of AM technologyMost prominent potential hazards
Material ExtrusionInhalation exposure to VOC’s, additives; burns
Power Bed FusionFume, explosion, exposure to laser radiation
Vat Photo polymerizationDermal exposure to resins and solvents, harmful UV exposure
Material JettingInhalation of VOC’s, Dermal exposure to resins and solvents, harmful UV exposure
Binder jettingDermal exposers to binders, explosion of VOC’s
Sheet LaminationInhalation of fumes, shock, radiation exposure
Directed Energy depositionFume explosion, laser/radiation exposure

Top Market Opportunities

AM technologies offer multiple opportunities to the manufacturers such as ability to alter production process and make supply chain process simpler. AM enables this by allowing designers the ability to redesign parts to take advantage of part and sub-assembly consolidation.

The major impacts that AM could create on supply chain include, labor inputs, tooling, machining centers and working process inventory. Thus, AM technology alone has the potential to reduce assembly costs by 66% i.e. where production costs in traditional manufacturing are around $0.35 per part but with AM it could come down to $0.12 per part respectively.

AM technology could also reduce time and resources required to design and develop new products. These kinds of compression in product development lead time and the corresponding decrease in costs can also help companies react more rapidly to changing market preferences.

With help of AM some companies have also been able to reduce the product design cycles time t 1.5 days and produce up to 17 prototype examples within that time span. Thus, with AM product development cycle can be reduced by 50% i.e. from 12 months to 6 months.

Market Trends

One of the major challenge for the end users is ensuring consistent manufacturing-grade product quality coupled with requirements for better material properties.

Nearly 50% of the users of AM technology in the US cite that quality control is their top obstacle while using 3D printers. There is lack of additive manufacturing strategies which is holding back enterprises from adopting the technology actively.

Lengthy and costly pre- and post-processing steps in the 3D printing production is another impediment as speed is ultimately required to produce large volume parts at scale and the level where 3D printing has reached is still very slow.

Among major producers Nexa3D and Desktop Metal are the only companies that have relatively faster operating printers.

High machine and materials costs is another major barrier where firstly, the scope of materials that could be used for 3D printing is limited and secondly, the materials are costly.

In addition, the 3D printers (no matter what technology) are also quite costly where the cheapest ones cost around $3000 and could go up to millions of dollars depending on scale at which products are to be printed.

Any manufacturing company that has to print high volume, high size and products in a high scale, use of 3D printers becomes unfeasible because of significant costs associated to it.

Security and intellectual property protection, regulatory challenges, and societal concerns around bio-printing of organ tissue and 3D-printed items, such as handguns.

Initially, 3D printers’ hardware segment became developed greatly but the advancements in software is what has fallen behind.

And currently, the technology is struggling with the utilization problem where due to lack of skills and knowledge, the technology is being underutilized. Education regarding the technology is needed however, generative design could make it easier to make the best out of 3D printers.

Industry Challenges

Some of the major challenges associated with the AM technologies are as follows:

Financial Challenges: In additive manufacturing, the cost model is structured in a series of workflow steps where from the stage of preparation, printing to post-processing, each step has its own cost factors.

These factors are different from those traditional methods. For instance, various costs associated include, machine, material, labor and other overhead costs in processing.

At present, where costs are relatively higher than the benefits that the technology provides which leads to reduced adoption of the technology.

Capability challenges: to utilize the technology to its fullest extent, it requires experts such as engineers and managers to apply 3D printing effectively. However, US is facing skills gap where the country is expected to have 200,000 STEM skills gap in next 10 years.

In addition, even though well-trained workforce have learned much about the technology, there will still be lack of recruits who understand the technology holistically.

Academically, different disciplines’ need to be combined such as mechanical. Fluid and material engineering to leverage the full potential of AM technology.

IT integration challenges: The whole process of customer specific AM is largely manual at present. More lately, the applications landscape of the technology has shifted towards mass production from just prototyping.

In line with that, it is becoming important to reduce costs for items such as manual labor through integration. Some of the vendors are also providing API’s that connect with 3D printers but these are not standardized or widely used making the integration task even more challenging and costly.

Technology Trends

AM technologies are known to have wide range of applications across industries such as industrial & consumer products, automotive, medical and aerospace.

These technologies also utilize other variety of materials such as plastics, metals, ceramics and composites and cater to different needs such as design complexity, surface finish, unit cost, speed of operations and others.

AM technologies so far, are based on seven primary manufacturing processes as highlighted below:

  1. Stereolithography & Digital Light Processing: The process used in this AM technology is vat photopolymerization where a liquid photopolymer i.e. plastic in a vat is cured by light activated polymerization. The advantage of this technology is that it creates complex geometries and detailed parts. DLP or digital light processing allows high precision whereas stereolithography has more smooth finish.
  2. Multi-jet modelling: The process used is material jetting where a print head selectively drops material on build area. The ink droplets are comprised of photopolymers but additionally wax is also used to support built structures.
  3. Fused disposition modeling: The process used in the technology is multi-jet modeling (MJM) where thermoplastic material is sent through the heated nozzle and deposited on a build platform. Then, the nozzle melts the material and extrudes it to form each layer of the finished object. The main advantage of this technology is that it helps print strong parts.
  4. Laser & heat sintering: The process used in this technology is power bed fusion where raw materials such as metal, plastics are selectively fused together using a thermal energy source such as laser. When a layer is fused, a new one is created by spreading powder over the top of the object and repeating the process. In metal sintering, different kinds of metals such as stainless steel, cobalt, chrome, nickel and alloy are used whereas, normal heat and laser sintering are used on paper, plastic, ceramics, glass & composites.
  5. Power bed and plaster bed 3D printing: binder jetting process is used for both AM technologies where particles of material are joined together using a liquid binding agents i.e. glue. Inks could also be deposited in order to impart color. As a layer is formed, a new one is created by spreading power over the top object and repeating the process. The process is repeated until object is formed.
  6. Laminated object manufacturing: Sheet lamination process is used where thin sheets of material such as plastics or metal are joined together using variety of methods such as by applying glue, ultrasonic welding etc. to form an object. Each new sheet of material is placed over previous layers. Then, a laser is used to cut a boundary around the desired part and unneeded material is removed.
  7. Laser metal disposition: the process used is called directed energy disposition where the thermal energy is focused and is used to fuse materials as it is being deposited. Common materials used are metals and metal alloys. The main advantage of this technology is that it has ability to print large parts.

Major Historical Milestones in 3D printing/AM technology

Pricing Trends

One of the first AM technologies to be available was FDM or Fused deposition modeling. At that time, the manufacturers of 3D printers dreamed that it would become one of the most essential tools in consumer markets which unfortunately never manifested.

Only when the second technology stereolithography (SLA) appeared, then 3D printers became more advance and the pricing started to escalate. The company FormLab’s high-resolution 3D printing became available in printers costing up to $80,000 whereas the lower range cost about $3300 only.

The third wave of 3D printing was based on SLS or Selective laser sintering which has been an essential technology for industrial users. The least expensive SLS printers cost around $200,000 and the largest systems could go up to million dollars.

Other low range printers include, Benchtop SLS printers that produce nylon parts available at around $10,000 range making the technology more accessible and lowering production cost significantly.

Metal 3D printers belong to even a higher range where these printers fall under high-value low-volume applications. DMLS and SLM metal printers price starts at $400,000 and go beyond $1000, 000. In addition, they require highly skilled operators and carefully controlled environments.

Other Key Market Trends

Hybrid Printing: In multiple cases, 3D printing or AM technology also serves as a dominant step alongside conventional manufacturing method. This is also known as hybrid production where in the jewelry industry for instance, 3D printing is a part of investment casting process.

Jewelry makers’ start by designing a piece digitally and then 3D print it in a castable resin that is then immersed in a sand like investment material and cleanly burned away in an oven just like regular methods but leaving a cast for precious metals.

FDM metal: Metal printing is becoming more used in serial production where it is cheaper and easier to use than other methods. Also, FDM metal provides higher quality than some of the traditional manufacturing methods.

New materials: New materials-and especially in bio printing sector for instance, human tissue etc. is also set to open multiple opportunities across healthcare sector.

Design revolution: The trend is mainly modernized by the small companies. Some of the internal features are difficult to be created by human so there is trend towards software that focuses on fulfilling the same via algorithmic approach.

Market Size and Forecast

  • In the US, 3D printing or Additive manufacturing technology market size was estimated to be around $11.3 billion in 2019.
  • The largest segments of the AM market in the US include, dental printing, device printing and prototype printing and medical implants respectively.
    • The largest segment of AM i.e. dental printing market size was estimated around $2 billion in 2019.
    • Device printing market size in the US is expected to be around $1.9 billion in 2019
    • Medical implants segments’ market size was around $771 million in 2019.
    • Finally, prototype printing market size was estimated to be around $175.1 million in 2019

Market Outlook

  • By 2023, the expected market size of AM in the US is $27 billion respectively. The projected CAGR at which the market size is expected to grow between (2019-2023) is 22.3%.
  • The largest segment Dental printing market is set to grow at a CAGR of 23.2% during 2019-2023 period and the market size is expected to reach $5.06 billion by 2023
  • The second largest segment device printing market is set to grow at CAGR of 4.2% between 2019-2025 and the market size is expected to be around $2.5 billion by 2025.
  • The medical implants market is set to grow the most at 30.6% between 2020-2025 periods and reach $2.2 billion by 2024.

Technology Roadmap

Across the AM landscape, number of companies are using the technology not just for producing prototypes but also to manufacture parts and full-scale products. Some of the potential future developments of AM in the select industries include:

  • Commercial Aerospace & Defence: One of the application that is being researched for future use is- embedding additively manufactured electronics directly on parts, second, production of complex engine parts & aircraft wing components and finally, production of other structural aircraft components.
  • Space: For space, on-demand parts/spares in space could be printed and adjusted accordingly, large structures could be directly formed in space, thus avoiding launch vehicle size limitations.
  • Automotive: In near future, sophisticated auto components can be conveniently built, auto components could also be designed through crowdsourcing.
  • Healthcare: One major area of R&D for healthcare is being centred at developing human tissues for regenerative therapies, rapid prototyping, creating and testing design iterations.
  • Retail: One area that is untapped and could be enabled by AM technology is the idea of co-designing and creating with customers. In addition, across retail, AM also has scope to create customized living spaces and overall, growing mass customization of consumer products.

Competitive Landscape

As of 2019, there are approximately 171 companies involved with the additive manufacturing landscape.

Out of 171, 92 were identified to be operating in hardware manufacturing, 32 belonged to software segment, 29 to material manufacturing, 5 in post-processing systems, 3 in quality assurance & 11 of them were Research Centers & institutes working for development of additive manufacturing technologies.

Moreover, several segments of AM and associated players in the segments are as follows:

  • Hardware manufacturers: 44 companies were identified to be working in metal printing, 31 in polymer printing &7 in desktop machines respectively.
    • Polymer: Some of the popular polymer 3D printing products in the market are 3D Systems, EOS and Stratasys. Relatively, new players are dominating the segment and are providing innovative technologies.
    • Desktop machines: Advancements in 3D printing technologies has led desktop manufacturers to seek the solutions that are more cost-friendly than their counterparts. As a result companies such as Formlab’s Form 2 SLA 3D printer offer printing solutions at price point of $3350. Arguably, the segment is dominated by two companies: Formlabs & Ultimaker.
    • Metal printing: The segment has encountered over 80% growth in sales since 2018 and established brands such as EOS, 3D systems and SLM solutions are the major part of the growth.
  • Software vendors: These include services such as design & CAD workflow and security. 22 companies in the segment are working in CAD & design, 7 in workflow software and 3 in security sub-segment.
    • Design & CAD: This segment of the software landscape is mostly dominated by big companies particularly as acquisions are a common thing happening within the segment. For instance, ANSYS acquired 3DSIM earlier and then another material information company Granta Design in 2018. Similarly, PTC also acquired design company Frustum in 2018 for $70 million.
    • Workflow software: The landscape has evolved for over five years and now number of software sellers are offering solutions to manage AM workflow. As, AM becomes more proliferates, workflow software segment is also likely to grow.
  • Raw-material providers: 14 companies are operating in polymer printing and 15 in metal printing respectively
    • Polymer printing: PEEK & PAEK are some of the products contributing towards HPP (High-Performance Polymers). In line with that, SABIC is one company which is providing ULTEM materials. There are only few printer manufacturers such as 3ntr, Roboze and Apium that can process materials such as PEEK & ULTEM.
    • Metal printing: Titanium is one of the most interesting segment of metals at present. Most of the growth in metal printing is being driven by industry verticals such as medical & aerospace. In 2019, the segment has grown by almost 24%.
  • Post-processing system manufacturers: There are 3 major players in the segment that include, Additive Manufacturing PostPro3D that offers ‘automated surface finishing technology’, Post Process technologies that offers surface finishing & removal solutions & finally DyeMansion which provides high-volume finishing systems.

Competitive Factors

Since several years, 3D metal printing field has actively been subject to investment. For instance GE (General Electrics) in 2017, acquired two leading metal AM companies namely Concept Laser and Arcam.

In addition, several venture-backed companies such as Desktop Metal, Markforged and Xjet are also seeking for processes that promise to lower cost-per-part and make metal 3D printing more affordable for a wide range of applications.

Also NASA has been able to redesign an engine fuel injector via AM technology which reduced the subcomponents from 115 to merely 2. The redesigned injector is competent and is able to produce 20,000 pounds of thrust coping up to 3000 degree Celsius.

An educational equipment manufacturer based in the US was also able to print turbine wax mold patterns within 18 hours as a single component in contrast to previously needed 170 hours.

The NASCAR race team also adopted AM to produce its cars’ prototypes for wind tunnel testing and the team was able to slash the costs by 89% due to elimination of scrap and lack of tooling creation.

Siemens has also created 10 million custom hearing aid shells using AM technology and also claim that they provide better fitting product which has led to customer satisfaction and rise in sales of those hearing aids. The AM technology has allowed the company to mass-customize their products.

Key Market Players

Some of the major market players in the industry are as follows:

  • 3D Systems: The Company was founded in 2014 and has advanced software which enables workflows regarding personalized medicine. One of its pioneer solutions include ‘living therapy factory’ merges cells, biomaterials, biologics, bioreactors, and 3D Systems printers which are used to accelerate the engineering of living therapies. Some of the technologies that 3D Systems has introduced are ProJet MJP 2500 and Figure 4 3D printers as well as VisiJet materials which are all bio printing platforms. As of 2019, the revenue of the company was recorded at $155.3 million respectively.
  • FormLabs: The Company is 3D printing technology developer and manufacturer. Formlabs was established in 2011 in Somerville, Massachusetts. There are more than 500 employees associated with the company at present and the revenue of the company as of 2019 was found to be around $100 million. Formlabs is also entitled as world’s largest seller of stereolithography 3-D printers.
  • Stratasys: the company ias an American manufacturers of 3D printers as well as 3D production systems for offices based rapid prototyping and direct manufacturing solutions. The company uses wide range of materials for the 3D printing that include, ABS, polyphenylsulfone (PPSF), polycarbonate (PC) and ULTEM 9085 and Nylon 12. The company manufactures and caters prototyping and digital manufacturing systems to several industry verticals such as automotive, aerospace, industrial, recreational, electronic, and medical and consumer product OEMs. As of 2019, the company’s revenue was recorded at $663.2 million respectively.
  • Desktop Metal: Desktop Metal is a technology company that designs and markets metal 3D printing systems. Headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts, the company has raised $438 million in venture funding since its founding from investors such as Google Ventures, BMW, and Ford Motor Company. Desktop Metal, a 3D printing unicorn that has raised another $160 million, bringing its total funding to a whopping $438 million and its valuation to some $1.5 billion.
  • Carbon 3D: Carbon is a digital manufacturing company founded in 2013 by Joseph and Philip DeSimone, Alex and Nikita Ermoshkin, Edward Samulski, and Steve Nelson. Carbon is based in Redwood City, California. the company is one of the unicorn startups in the field of AM industry and is valued at around $2.4 million as of 2019.

Other notable players include:

  • Protolabs 3D
  • Simens 3D
  • MarkForged
  • HP
  • Canveo
  • Beckatt Solutions
  • 3D Central VA
  • 3D Chimera
  • 3D Universe

Strategic Conclusion

Some of the general concern for the US manufacturing is that it has lost cost competitiveness with other nations and industry data suggests that it is able to maintain its number one rank.

AM technology may be able to provide opportunities for advancing US manufacturing while maintaining and advancing US innovation. In line with that, US is currently the leader in AM production systems manufacturing and will continue to become leader until next two decades.

Nearly 64.4% of the commercial units of AM systems sold in 2019 around the globe were made by the top producers based in the US. Although, the penetration level of the technology in the country lies at 5% at present, it is forecasted to reach 50% between 2031 to 2038 and further 100% between 2058 to 2065 respectively.




  • AM- Additive Manufacturing
  • 3D- 3 Dimension
  • CAD- Computer Aided Design
  • PEEK – Polyether ether ketone
  • FDM- Fused Deposition Modelling
  • SLA- Stereo lithography 
  • DMLS-Direct metal laser sintering
  • SLM-Selective laser melting 
  • SLS-Selective laser sintering
  • DLP- Digital Light Processing

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